Aegeus Society For Aegean Prehistory


18 January 2011

How reliable are our published archaeometric analyses? Effects of analytical techniques through time on the elemental analysis of obsidians

R.G.V. Hancock & Tristan Carter Journal of Archaeological Science 37.2 (February 2010): 243-250.


To assess the analytical accuracies and precisions of archaeometric elemental analyses by different techniques, a relatively homogeneous material such as obsidian must be studied. An assessment of published elemental concentration data from two Anatolian obsidian sources shows that while in most cases analytical accuracy is as high as is commonly expected, in some cases it is not. It also shows that the dispersions of elemental concentration data (indicators of analytical precisions) coming from modern analytical procedures are akin to the estimated homogeneity of the obsidian. Based on this latter observation, if one has element dispersion data from a single analytical technique, with a single source of obsidian as a control, data sets that contain multiple, but similar sources of obsidian may be differentiated.


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